Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Trudging our way north by hiking south....

I apologize for the lapse in time since last fully updating the blog.  We returned to the trail the last week of March, after we had to get off for 4 weeks while I completed some required Army Reserve training.  When we got off ,we were up in Wallingford, VT snowshoeing through the snow and cold.  When we got back on, we decided to get on in Virginia where we had flipped from last year and head back north, so as not to have to return to snowshoeing.  Mother Nature greeted us at US 60 with 6 inches of snow.  We scrapped our first attempt to slack-pack from Hog Camp Gap to US 60 because of the snow, but returned the next day and successfully slack-packed from Hog Camp to US 60.  However, snow and cold remained in the area just north of Hog Camp, so we decided to head up to Swift Run Gap, the mid-point of the Shenandoah, stay with our amazing Trail Angel Deb, and slack/full-pack our way south from Swift Run Gap to Hog Camp Gap.  Therefore, the pictures listed below are in geographical order from Swift Run Gap south to Hog Camp Gap.  We will now get back on trail at Swift Run Gap and head on north to NH/ME to finish (Mom needs to hike the northern half of Vermont and southern NH and we both need to hike southern Maine).  The patch-work hiking is complete and we are going to head straight north from now on.

We send out accolades to Potomac AT Club, Tidewater AT Club and Natural Bridge AT Club for doing an outstanding job of maintaining the AT.  We were not at all impressed with Roanoke AT Club's trail maintenance when we hiked through their area last summer.  However, since leaving Roanoke's area we have been thoroughly impressed both last year and this with the maintenance efforts of the Natural Bridge, Tidewater and Potomac AT Club'.  We even had the pleasure of meeting and personally thanking some trail maintainers during our hiking from Swift Run Gap to US 60.  Keep up the great work and THANK YOU!!  I will be sure to get pictures of the maintainers next time!!

Hendo's Mom and Hendo relaxing on Baldface Mountain

We met Lil' Red Riding Hood (Abbey) and her dad Ben at Pinefield Shelter.  They were out backing from Rockfish Gap to Swift Run Gap during Lil' Red Riding Hood's spring break.  I was honored to give Abbey her trail name, Lil' Red Riding Hood and Lil' Red was excited to get home and keep track of all of her AT miles hiked as she stated she was going to officially continue section hiking the AT until she has done it all.  Ben and Lil' Red Riding Hood were great people and we were so happy to have crossed paths with them.
Hendo, Hendo's Mom, Lil' Red Riding Hood and Ben at Pinefield Shelter.

Ben and Lil' Red Riding Hood hiking on down the AT hand in hand!!

Hendo's Mom hiking on to Doyles River Trail parking area.

Taking a break at Doyles River Overlook

Blackrock Mountain, thought we were in The Whites again...haha.

We saw two big 'ol rat snakes near Riprap sunning in the middle of the trail.  They nicely moved on down the side of the mountain so we could pass.

Crazy storms moving in between Turk Gap and Sawmill Run.  We slack-packed this day, so we were able to get done hiking and into the car before the rain started falling.

Crazy storms moving in between Turk Gap and Sawmill Run.

Crazy storms moving in between Turk Gap and Sawmill Run.

Looking out from on top Calf Mountain.

Communitcation Towers on top of Bears Den Mountain.

Eastern Towhee bird at McCormick Gap

Hendo's Mom, Jennifer, Than and Hendo.
We have had the pleasure of crossing paths with Jennifer and Than, not once but twice while hiking our way through the southern Shenandoah.  On this occasion we crossed paths just south of Rockfish Gap.  They are great people and we look forward to seeing them again.

Remnants of a Chimney south of Rockfish Gap on our way to Paul C. Wolfe Shelter.

A big open tree burl, wonder where it is a door to...Wonderland??

A moss smiley face along the trail to lift our spirits.

We found a big rock to set up camp next to for the night.  Mr Boulder did a great job shielding us from the rain storms during the night.

We found a big rock to set up camp next to for the night.  Mr Boulder did a great job shielding us from the rain storms during the night.

Mr. Snail offered to help us pack up camp in the morning.

We crossed through 3 Ridges overlook and hung out all of our gear to dry from the rainstorms the night before.

We crossed through 3 Ridges overlook and hung out all of our gear to dry from the rainstorms the night before.

Hendo taking a nap while our gear dried out at 3 Ridges Overlook.

Hendo made a rookie mistake and didn't wash her new hiking pants before wearing them out on the trail.  As a result, Hendo developed severe monkey butt rash.  After drying out at 3 Ridges Overlook and hiking on to Reeds Gap, we decided to hitch into town back to our Trail Angel Deb's house to treat Hendo's chaffing.

Hendo trying to hitch a ride into town.

Hendo's Mom hitching a ride into town.  Two hikers stopped and gave us a ride.

Hendo using the bear pole rod to pry a rock out of the ground in one of the tent sites at Maupin Shelter.

Hendo's Mom and the amazing hiking ladies of the Blue Ridge Appalachian Trail Club, who were out for a hike on the Mau Har Trail.

A view of 3 Ridges Mountain which we hiked up and over.

The trail always provides, and the trail provided us a jackpot by having our path cross the path of Popsicle, our new trail sister.  After making it to the bottom of 3 Ridges on Friday, Popsicle joined us as we shuttled up to Hog Camp Gap to hike down The Priest.  Saturday morning was sleeting and freezing cold, so we headed into Lexington to get some hot breakfast and warm up.  Popsicle remembered she had a free nights stay from Hotel.com, so we were able to ride out the cold wet day and Saturcay night in a warm dry hotel room.  But we love Popsicle not only for her hotel room, but her amazing personality and company as well.

Hendo, Popsicle and Hendo's Mom at Hanging Rock Overlook on our way up 3 Ridges Mountain.

Hendo's Mom and Hendo at the top of 3 Ridges.

Turkey Vultures enjoying some dinner, cleaning up some roadkill.

Hendo at the summit of The Priest, "I surrender!!"

Hendo's Mom at the Summit of The Priest

Hendo resting her "dogs" and catching a power nap at the view on the way down The Priest.

Cripple Creek was running swiftly

Cripple Creek, almost to the bottom of The Priest

Hendo's Mom crossing Cripple Creek

Popsicle crossing Cripple Creek

Popsicle crossing Cripple Creek

Mother Natuer had it out for us when it came to hiking the portion of trail from US 60 to VA 56, going over The Priest.  We initially tried to return to the trail in the end of March, hiking from Hog Camp Gap to US 60, but Mother Nature did not approve of our plans and greeted us with 6 inches of snow.  We were not prepared for such weather conditions that day, so we built a snowman on the AT, returned home for the day and returned the next day and successfully hiked from Hog Camp Gap to US 60.
Hendo, Trail Angel Deb, Frost the Snowman and Hendo's Mom at Hog Camp Gap.

Slack Packing from Hog Camp Gap to US 60, Cole Mountain.

Snow showers out in the distance moving in towards Cole Mountain.

Hendo's Mom hiking up Cole Mountain

Hendo's Mom on the summit of Cole Mountain

Hendo, Hendo's Mom and Deb at Cow Camp Gap

Hendo and Hendo's Mom on top of Bald Mountain.

Our third time at Hog Camp Gap and first attempt to hike south over The Priest started out with a  beautiful sunset and ended not in successful hiking, but successful assistance of a day-hiker in need Thrusday morning.
Moonrise at Hog Camp Gap

Sunset at Hog Camp Gap

We met Kevin, a student at James Madison University, Thrusday morning when he arrived at Hog Camp Gap with a busted oil pan, after hitting a huge rock on his drive up to Hog Camp Gap.  Kevin had planned to hike up Mt. Pleasant, but ended up having to have his car towed and oil pan repaired.  Mom got in and steered while Kevin and I gave the car a push to get it rolling downhill.  After we got it headed downhill, Kevin and I were able to get in and ride down as well.  We had to get the car back down to where the asphalt began, as AAA would not come up to the Hog Camp Parking area which was beyond the state maintained portion of the road.
Hendo and Kevin getting the car a rolling, Mom is at the wheel.

Hendo's Mom, Kevin and Hendo, mission complete, waiting for AAA.

Two of Deb's cuddly pets, Cooper the cat and Champ the Basset Hound.

And so we celebrated our milestone with the traditional dinner at Ming's Chinese Buffet in Waynesboro, VA...YUMMY!!!!

Here are pics of some of the amazing spring flowers we have seen so far along the trail!!!

Cut Leaved Toothwort

Dutchmans Breeches

Pinxter Flower

Star Chickweed


Plantain Leaf Pussytoes

Wood Vetch

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